Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee’s grin has just got broader

  • Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Nov 09, 2015 14:25 IST
Bengal’s chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee not only breathed a deep sigh of relief but also started smiling, and then rejoicing. (PTI photo)

If Lalu had the last laugh after the Bihar poll verdict, Bengal’s chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s grin just got broader!

As the initial trends started changing after around 10am on Sunday, and results started trickling in by early afternoon, the expression on Mamata’s face also underwent a radical change. Didi not only breathe a deep sigh of relief but also started smiling, and then rejoicing.

After all, the setback for the saffron camp in the neighbouring state will further dent the already demoralized morale of the Bengal BJP brass and cadre — coming as it did after a string of defeats they suffered since the 2014 Lok Sabha election when they managed to send two of their members to Parliament from Bengal. Add to it the fact that Mamata had extended her support to Kumar to defeat the BJP, as did Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.

“Congratulations Nitish Kumarji, Lalu- ji and your full team and all my Bihar brothers and sisters. Victory of tolerance and defeat of intolerance,” she tweeted.

As for now, Mamata will be much in demand to play a key role in the anti-BJP dynamics at the national level, although she will have competition from Nitish Kumar, among others, if she harbours any prime ministerial dream. But to begin with, the BJP’s crumbling defeat in Bihar has given her a clear advantage in the Assembly poll battle due next May — with the Left under the CPI(M) still to pick up the pieces to stage a turnaround and the Congress confined to increasingly invisible pockets in the state.

The only threat perception that she had, till the other day, was from the BJP, and that looks more like ‘mere media hype’ after Narendra Modi’s juggernaut got stopped at the Bihar border!

Analysts were quick to point out that Modi’s dependence on Mamata may increase now, especially because he needs to pass key pieces of legislation in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP is short of numbers.

“In Bengal, the people are with Mamata Banerjee. It’s a government with a human face. If ugly, divisive forces try to raise their heads in Bengal, the people of Bengal will teach them the same lesson the people of Bihar did today,” Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, a Rajya Sabha member from the Trinamool, said. Political analyst Shibaji Pratim Basu said, “The anti-Modi coalition will now grow stronger. Mamata, with Keriwal, will definitely try to team up with the Lalu-Nitish combine.”

However, some analysts said that a cornered BJP may now prod the CBI to tighten the screws on the Trinamool leaders under scanner in the Saradha chit fund scam.

Bengal BJP leaders, on their part, tried hard to put up a brave face after the Bihar drubbing. BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said, “We accept the verdict of the people of Bihar.

But we will have a good result in Bengal and there is no question of going slow on the Bengal polls.” In a significant remark, he also said, “Everyone knows Mukul Roy is working as a puppet of the Trinamool.” There had been much speculation over the chances of ‘former Trinamool No. 2’ Roy joining the BJP in recent days.

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